PTNCE session

Polish Society for Human and Evolution Studies (PTNCE) special session
12:30 - 15:00, Sunday 15 April, Collegium Humanisticum, Bojarskiego 1, Torun, Poland; Evolang 12 conference satellite event


Polish Society for Human and Evolution Studies aims at associating scientists and students of various scientific disciplines interested in the application of the evolutionary perspective in the following research areas: biology, ecology, human behaviour and culture studies. By creating an idiosyncratic evolutionary platform we intend to break the barriers between traditional divisions in human studies (

Keynote speaker:

Rui Diogo

(Howard University College of Medicine and a Resource Faculty at the Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology of George Washington University)


Single author or co-author of more than 100 papers in top journals such as Nature, and of numerous book chapters, co-editor of five books and the sole or first author of thirteen books covering subjects as diverse as fish evolution, chordate development, human medicine and pathology, and the links between evolution and behavioral ecology.


Keynote speaker: Rui Diogo, Howard Univ. College Medicine, Dep. Anat., Washington DC, USA

Links between Evolutionary Developmental Pathology, the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, Systems biology, Behavior and Language: a unifying view of life and human evolution

Since the rise of Evo-Devo in the 1980s few authors have attempted to combine the increasing knowledge obtained from the study of model organisms and human medicine with data from comparative and evolutionary biology in order to investigate the links between development, pathology and macroevolution. Fortunately, this situation is slowly changing, with a renewed interest in Evolutionary Developmental Pathology (Evo-Devo-Path) in the last decades. In this talk I will thus provide such a synthesis, and will connect discoveries on this field with current discussions on the need for a revised theory of evolution, or Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES), particularly focusing on my last book, Evolution Driven by Organismal Behavior. Namely I will present a new framework - Organic Nonoptimal Constrained Evolution (ONCE) - to address the question of why organisms look and behave as they do: organisms themselves, and in particular their behavior, are the major active players of evolution. Crucially, due to behavioral persistence related to behavioral/ecological inheritance, organisms as diverse as bacteria, plants and animals help to construct their own niches, thus being crucial to direct evolution. Darwinian natural (external) selection then comes into play as a secondary - but still crucial - player. That is, due to organismal behavioral persistence, the random mutations/epigenetic factors that happen to be advantageous within the niches constructed by the organisms will be selected, further directing evolution and increasing the match between behavior, phenotype, and environment. I will therefore then apply the recent knowledge on evo-devo-path, the EES, ONCE, and systems biology to the study of the anatomical evolution of human vocal, as well as facial, communication.


Diogo, R. (2017). Evolution driven by organismal behavior: a unifying view of life, function, form, mismatches and trends. Springer (New York, US).

Diogo, R., D. Noden, C. M. Smith, J. A. Molnar, J. Boughner, C. Barrocas & J. Bruno (2016). Learning and understanding human anatomy and pathology: an evolutionary and developmental guide for medical students. Taylor & Francis (Oxford, UK).

Diogo, R. & Wood, B. (2012). "Comparative anatomy and phylogeny of primate muscles and human evolution". Taylor & Francis (Oxford, UK).

Powell, V., B. Esteve-Altava, J. Molnar, B. Villmoare, A. Pettit B & R. Diogo (2018). Primate modularity and evolution: first anatomical network analysis of primate head and neck musculoskeletal system. Nature Scientific Reports 8:2341.


Katarzyna Rogalska-Chodecka, Department of Italian, Nicolaus Copernicus Univeristy in Toruń, Poland

How to get rid of linguistic bias in iterated learning experiments with human agents?

The iterated learning methodology has recently become one of the most important ways of studying language evolution in laboratory. However, it turns out that is it almost impossible to obtain a mini-language void of linguistic bias as the final result. It is a consequence of entrenched linguistic structures (ELS) in the agent’s mind. Therefore, using various bottlenecks, the author aims at blocking, or at least limiting, the effect in question. Obviously, the easiest way of achieving unbiased signals is simply filtering out the biased ones. However, by doing that, the results are no longer reliable, as they do not show a natural language evolution process, but a process directed by the experimenter choosing the right signals to stay in the language. Therefore, the first step should be to reject all manipulation from the experimental design. Secondly, mini-languages should evolve with the use of communication, where signals are collectively chosen by the users. Only in such a way is it possible to obtain a process similar to what can be intuitively inferred about the mechanism of language evolution. The present paper analyses four factors contributing to the reduction of the entrenched linguistic structures influence on newly-emerging systems tested in several iterated learning experiments: age, nationality, the conditions in which the experiment was conducted, and the substitution of individual participants with groups of three participants. The most important conclusion coming from the discussion concerns the fact that involving groups of agents instead of individuals is the only so-far confirmed way of eliminating the influence of previously known structures from the mini-languages produced unless such signals are manually filtered out, which interferes with the naturalness of the evolutionary process.


Cornish, H. (2011). Language Adapts: Exploring the Cultural Dynamics of Iterated Learning. PhD thesis: The University of Edinburgh.

Kirby, S., Smith, K. and Cornish, H. (2008). “Language, learning and cultural evolution: How linguistic transmission leads to cumulative adaptation”. In Cooper, R. and Kempson, R. (eds) Language in Flux: Dialogue Coordination, Language Variation, Change and Evolution. London: College Publications, 81- 108.

Cornish, H., Tamariz, M. and Kirby, S. (2009). “Complex adaptive systems and the origins of adaptive structure: What experiments can tell us”. In Language Learning 59 (s1), 187-205.

Fitch, W. T. (2000). “The evolution of speech: A comparative review”. In Trends in Cognitive Science 4, 258-267.


Piotr Podlipniak, Institute of Musicology, UAM Poznań

The Baldwin effect as a possible mechanism in the evolution of human music

The intercultural ubiquity and spontaneity of human musical behavior suggests that music, similar to language, can be part of human nature (Blacking, 1973; Darwin, 1871; Peretz, 2006). If this is true, then there must be an evolutionary reason behind human musicality. In order to solve this issue many hypotheses showing the possible scenarios of music evolution have been postulated. Some of them emphasize the adaptive role of music as a social consolidator (Roederer, 1984; Storr, 1992) or a signal of social cohesion (Hagen & Bryant, 2003; Hagen & Hammerstein, 2009). Others indicate that musical behavior can serve as a sexual display which acts as a type of fitness indicator (Miller, 2000) or could be the result of sexual choices (Darwin, 1871) based on arbitrary taste (Prum, 2017). There are also theories which indicate that the biological roots of music lie within mother-infant interactions (Dissanayake, 2008). However, as music is a complex, syntactic, communicative system based on species specific hierarchically organized mental categories, its biological use only makes sense if these categories are mutually recognizable. Therefore, it is hard to imagine how an accidental genetic change that enabled one individual to use complex musical syntax, could have gained an advantage in an environment in which nobody else recognized any musical syntax. A possible solution for this riddle is the Baldwinian mode of evolution (Baldwin, 1896a, 1896b) which consists in taking genetic control over culturally invented behavior by the means of natural selection. The aim of this presentation is to analyze the possible role of the Baldwin effect in the aforementioned scenarios of music evolution. Different functions of music put different constraints on the possible Baldwinian scenarios of evolution (Podlipniak, 2017). It is proposed that the hypotheses suggesting the consolidating function of music (Podlipniak, 2016) and the sexual-advertising function of music are more promising for the Baldwinian scenarios.


Baldwin, J. M. (1896a). A New Factor in Evolution. The American Naturalist, 30(354), 441–451.

Baldwin, J. M. (1896b). A New Factor in Evolution (Continued). The American Naturalist, 30(355), 536–553.

Blacking, J. (1973). How musical is man? Seattle, London: University of Washington Press.

Darwin, C. (1871). The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex (1st ed.). London: John Murray.

Dissanayake, E. (2008). If music is the food of love, what about survival and reproductive success? Musicae Scientiae, 12(1 Suppl), 169–195.

Hagen, E. H., & Bryant, G. A. (2003). Music and Dance As a Coalition Signaling System. Human Nature, 14(1), 21–51.

Hagen, E. H., & Hammerstein, P. (2009). Did Neanderthals and other early humans sing? Seeking the biological roots of music in the territorial advertisements of primates, lions, hyenas, and wolves. Musicae Scientiae, 13(2 Suppl), 291–320.

Miller, G. F. (2000). Evolution of Human Music Through Sexual Selection. In N. L. Wallin, B. Merker, & S. Brown (Eds.), The Origins of Music (pp. 329–360). Cambridge, London: The MIT Press.

Peretz, I. (2006). The nature of music from a biological perspective. Cognition, 100(1), 1–32.

Podlipniak, P. (2016). The evolutionary origin of pitch centre recognition. Psychology of Music, 44(3), 527–543.

Podlipniak, P. (2017). The Role of the Baldwin Effect in the Evolution of Human Musicality. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 11, 542.

Prum, R. O. (2017). The evolution of beauty: how Darwin’s forgotten theory of mate choice shapes the animal world - and us. New York, London: Doubleday.

Roederer, J. G. (1984). The Search for a Survival Value of Music. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 1(3), 350–356.

Storr, A. (1992). Music and the mind. New York: Ballantine Books.


Marek Placiński, Department of English, Nicolaus Copernicus Univeristy in Toruń, Poland

Word order in conversation

Conversation is the basic setting of language use (Clark 1996). We learn language in conversation and a simple exposition to language, i.e. hearing and not participating in a linguistic exchange, does not suffice to acquire a language (Pinker 1995). Linguistic investigation into conversation has a long history (Sacks 1974) and a lot of research has been conducted on word order in conversation (e.g. Bock 1989; Branigan et al. 1995, 2005; Garrod and Anderson 1987; Pickering and Garrod 2004, 2009; Branigan and Pickering 2017). The findings of the aforementioned studies indicate that speakers and addressees use the same words and word order in conversation which came to be termed in a variety of ways – syntactic persistence (Bock 1989) or syntactic priming (Branigan 1995) – however, the most extensive account of a model of conversation, its syntax and lexis, has been proposed by Pickering and Garrod (2004). The account – called the interactive alignment model – states that interlocutors align their representations at many levels with the use of an automatic process which facilitates language production and comprehension. Stemming from this research, many attempts have been made to find correlation between linguistic behaviour and non-linguistic variables (Schoot et al. 2016, Mizil et al. 2011). The present contribution aims first at presenting the various theories regarding the presence of alignment in conversation: lowering the cost of signalling and comprehension and linguistic cooperation – Grice 1975, Żywiczyński and  Wacewicz 2015 – emphasising the linguistic reasons for the emergence of language – as well as the influence of this primarily linguistic behaviour on extra-linguistic variables, such as the perception of the interlocutor, power differences, social status, and others. The second aim of the contribution is presenting the results of empirical pilot research. The experiment included 10 dyads engaging in a maze-game task (Garrod and Anderson 1987), which is highly contextualised and cooperative.


Balcetis, E. E., and R. Dale. 2005. “An exploration of social modulation of syntactic priming”, Proceedings of the 27th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum, 184–189.

Bock, J.K. 1986. “Syntactic persistence in language production”. Cognitive Psychology 18: 355-387.

Branigan, H.P., M.J. Pickering, S.P. Liversedge, A.J. Stewart and T.P. Urbach. 1995. “Syntactic priming: Investigating the mental representation of language”, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 24 (6), 489-506.

Branigan, H.P., M.J. Pickering and J.F. McLean. 2005. “Priming prepositional- phrase attachment during comprehension”, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 31(3), 468.

Cole, P. and J. Morgan (eds.). Syntax and Semantics (3). New York: Academic Press.

Clark, H. H., 1996. Using Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, C., L. Lee, B. Pang and J. Kleinberg. 2011. “Echoes of power: language effects and power differences in language interaction”, 12 - Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference on World Wide Web.

Garrod, S. and A. Anderson. 1987. “Saying what you mean in dialogue: a study in conceptual and semantic co-ordination”, in: Cognition 27(2):181-218.

Garrod S. and M.J. Pickering. 2009. “Joint Action, Interactive Alignment, and Dialog”, Topics in Cognitive Science, DOI: 10.1111/j.1756- 8765.2009.01020.x.

Grice, H.P. 1975. “Logic and Conversation”, in: (eds.) P. Cole and J. Morgan, Syntax and Semantics (3), 41-58.

Harris, S. 2007. Politeness and power, in: C. Llamas, L. Mullany and P. Stockwell (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Sociolinguistics, 122-129.

Kulesza, W., D. Dolinski, A. Huisman and R. Majewski. 2014. “The echo effect: the power of verbal mimicry to influence prosocial behaviour”, Journal of Language and Social Psychology 33(2), 183-201.

Pickering, M.J. and Garrod S. 2004. “Toward a mechanistic psychology of dialogue”, The Behavioural and Brain Sciences 27(2), 169-190.

Pinker, S. 1995. The Language Instinct. London: Penguin Books.